Update: Partial Victory, Follow Up Action Needed in Kosovo

We just received great news from Kosovo: almost all Roma families have been safely relocated from lead-contaminated camps where they lived for seven years. Two of the three lead-contaminated camps have been leveled (Kablare and Zitkovac). A few families remain in the Chesmin Lug camp, but almost everyone is safely relocated in the new camp Osterode. These quarters are still temporary and not entirely satisfactory, but construction has also started on apartments that will provide permanent housing for the Roma families in their old Mahala.  

A Roma rights activist wrote: "The Global Response campaign was very successful! It took 7 months (since we initiated the Global Response campaign) for UN officials to relocate the families, but we had been trying to make this happen for 7 years! Thank you so much for your help!"

We are very happy to celebrate this success, but we are also concerned that the Romani families – especially the children and pregnant women who are most seriously affected by lead poisoning – are not yet receiving medical treatment for lead poisoning.  

Please write to UN officials today and insist that they immediately initiate the medical treatment that has been promised but not yet delivered to the affected Romani people. See the request for another urgent round of Global Response letters, below, and please take action on this right away.


Dear Paula,

I want to take this opportunity to thank you and Global Response for your efforts to help the Kosovo Roma. Your campaign to get them removed from the UN death camps was successful. I now hope you can get them medical treatment which they have been promised since November 2000.

For two years we have been seeking medical treatment for the Romani children who have been suffering and dying since 2000 from lead poisoning in the Kosovo UN camps where they lived for seven years.

Last January I attended a UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) meeting at camp Osterode where the WHO Albanian doctor, Dr. Syla, promised that medical treatment for lead poisoning would finally start no later than the end of February. It is now August, yet no one, not one child, not one pregnant woman (the most vulnerable) have been medically treated.

Ironically, the US Congress donated 1,000,000 for medical treatment and according to the political officer at the US Office in Pristina, UNMIK has already received this money. But still, no medical treatment has been delivered.

Is it possible that Global Response could once again take up a letter writing campaign to push UNMIK/WHO to finally medically treat these poor Roma?

I am writing to you in my official capacity as Head of Mission in Kosovo for both Society for Threatened Peoples and Kosovo Roma Refugee Foundation. The former is registered with the UN in New York as an implementing partner, the latter is a registered NGO with UNMIK in Pristina.

I sincerely hope you can help us.

Paul Polansky
Head of Mission, Society for Threatened Peoples (Kosovo)
and Kosovo Roma Refugee Foundation

Follow-up Alert: Deliver Medical Treatment to Romani Families / Kosovo

Model letter to:

President Martti Ahtisaari,
Chief Negotiator, Kosovo Status Talks
Chairman of the Board, Crisis Management Institute
Pieni Roobertinkatu 13 B 24-26 
00130 Helsinki, Finland 
FAX: +358 9 6127759 
Email to his assistant, Ms. Anna Elfving, anna.elfving@unosek.org and to Ms. Hua Jiang, hua.jiang@unosek.org

Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations
UN Headquarters, 1st Ave at 46th St
New York, NY 10017
FAX: +212 963 4879
inquiries@un.org or send a message from this website:http://visit.un.org/wcm/content/site/visitors/lang/en/home/to_see_and_do/inquiries/faqpiucontact1.asp

Mr. Alexander G. Borg-Olivier
SRSG-Office of the Legal Adviser
UNMIK Mission Headquarters, Room 305
UNMIK Grand Central Station
P.O. Box 4778
New York, N.Y.
U.S.A. 10163-4778
Fax number: 381-38-504-604-5603
Email: borg-olivier@un.org


I am relieved to know that most of the Roma families who were living in lead-contaminated United Nations camps in Kosovo have been relocated to a safer site at Osterode. But I am alarmed and dismayed to know that the children and pregnant women who suffer high degrees of lead poisoning have not yet received appropriate medical treatment.

Please do not allow this grave situation to continue for another day.

I urge you to use your good offices today to make certain that treatment for lead poisoning is immediately administered to the Roma children and pregnant women at Osterode and Chesmin Lug. I understand that the United States Congress provided million for this purpose. Every day that treatment is delayed is a further crime against the Roma people and a further threat to their future.

Please let me know when you can assure me that the Roma children, women and men at Osterode and Chesmin Lug are receiving medical treatment for lead poisoning.


(Note: postage from the US is 84 cents)